1 Samuel 7



Samuel Subdues the Philistines at Mizpah (7:1–17)

1–4 For twenty years the ark remained in a private house, not in the tabernacle where it belonged; because of this, the Israelites mourned (verse 2). They were aware that by worshiping the false gods of Canaan—the Baals and Ashtoreths (verse 4)—they had angered God; and as a result, God had ceased to fight for them (see Judges 2:10–15 and comment). Therefore Samuel spoke to the whole house of Israel (verse 3)—that is, representatives from all over Israel—and told them to get rid of their Canaanite idols and return to the Lord; then the Lord would deliver them from their enemies (in this case the Philistines), just as He had delivered the Israelites many times before during the period of the judges (see Judges: Introduction).

5–9 Then Samuel called an assembly of the representatives of all Israel, and like Moses before him, he interceded with God on Israel’s behalf. The people drew water and poured it out before the LORD (verse 6), an act which symbolized the “pouring out” of their hearts in repentance.

While the Israelites were assembled, the Philistines attacked them. Samuel cried out to God, and God answered in a remarkable way.

10–12 God’s answer came in the form of loud thunder (verse 10), which threw the Philistines into panic and caused them to flee (see Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 7:1719; Joshua 10:9–11). By doing this, God proved that it was He who was the Lord of nature, not the gods of the Canaanites. After Israel’s victory, Samuel set up a memorial stone and called it Ebenezer, which means “stone of help.” The stone would re mind the Israelites that without God’s help victory was impossible.

13–17 The Philistines did not immediately counterattack; however, they continued to be a problem to Israel. Later on in the book of 1 Samuel, we shall see that they did engage Israel in battle on several occasions.

But for a number of years Israel was at peace with both the Philistines and the Amorites (Canaanites). And Samuel continued as judge (leader) over Israel. He brought peace to Israel not by military might but by prayer and by turning the Israelites back to God.